How to alienate people and lose customers

Some companies just don’t get it.  They actually seem to want to lose customers. Here are two examples.


Just one day after I wrote my last post on alienating customers, I got a letter from Citibank informing that my credit card  account is changing.  But not to fear, these changes include several “enhancements.”  But the changes are not enhancements. They are making the card even more useless–no more picture ID, no more 2% cash back for supermarket and drugstore purchases, AND, they are changing the name of the card and issuing a new number.  The thing about the account number was in the last paragraph.

You know what this is: it is a way of further alienating me as a customer. Why? Because first, it insults my intelligence. I know an enhancement when I see one–it usually involves something positive for me as a customer. Second, it forces me to do some work. Now, I have to call places where I have recurring charges to change my card number. And third, it is giving me something I didn’t ask for nor did I want AGAINST MY WILL, WITH NO OPT-OUT.


Although I have few service issues with Verizon, when I do, it is a nightmare to deal with this company. Its customer service truly is atrocious.  I dread having to call them for anything.  I usually get a phone tree, followed by an inept customer service rep who then drops the call when transferring me to the correct department. Just ugh. So, the idea of adding any services with this company is unthinkable.

Verizon seems to think that if they send me enough direct mail, I will buckle in and get FIOS. So, every single week, I get a minimum of one piece of direct mail with an offer to install FIOS. This week, I got three pieces. This has been going on for two years.  Every time I see a letter from Verizon it goes in the trash and I think what a stupid company this is. Spending millions of dollars on direct mail, killing trees and for what? If they had an inkling on how to get customers they would figure out what customers want, and work on serving those needs first (better customer service comes to mind). Instead of doing real work, Verizon keeps sending useless direct mail. How many people are signing up? I bet not many.

How to alienate people and lose customers? Keep hitting them over the head with offers they don’t want, insult their intelligence and make them do all the work.  On that end, Citibank and Verizon, you are doing a great job.



About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.

4 thoughts on “How to alienate people and lose customers”

  1. Citibank lost my business over poor customer service and lack of customer differentiation. They treated me as a deadbeat rather than recognizing a payment glitch with my online banking for what it was: a payment glitch. It wasn’t until I called to cancel that they said, “that shouldn’t have happened.” Yup, that’s right. But it did.

    Companies with poor customer service seem to be calculating that most people are too lazy to move. That’s a pretty stupid business model.

    1. No doubt. More disturbing is that they spend millions on advertising instead of fixing their customer service because they underestimate their customers. I am about done with Citi too!

  2. Hearing customer service horror stories makes me thankful to be an employee and subscriber of DISH Network. And while I can’t claim DISH is perfect (of course who is?) every day I see the continuous striving effort to improve the customer experience and I’m proud to be part of that ongoing focus. DISH is also way ahead of all the competition when it comes to taking you entertainment mobile. With TV everywhere you can watch all of your programming (both live and anything on your DVR) anywhere you go on a variety of mobile devices.

  3. Pingback: Repetition and frequency « Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications

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